FIPA’s latest custom lifting & gripping solution enables safe, efficient & cost-conscious palletizing


FIPA Inc. recently designed and installed a custom palletizing solution for Agro-Norm GmbH, a 60-person company that specializes in providing logistics, purchasing, warehousing, and order picking services for the automotive industry. Comprised of a FIPALIFT Basic vacuum tube lifter, a custom gripper featuring three Varioflex® bellows vacuum suction cups, a wall-mounted jib crane, and a silencing box, the custom lifting and gripping solution FIPA developed for Agro-Norm quietly provides employees with an efficient, ergonomic alternative to manually handling between five and 10 tons of auto parts each day.

“FIPA has a fantastic reputation for developing extremely reliable custom lifting and gripping solutions that utilize a cost-conscious combination of both solution-specific and standard components to relieve employees from strenuous physical labor, mitigate the risk for on-the-job accidents and injuries, and improve overall efficiency and productivity, which, together, can also have a positive impact on profitability,” said Heinz Osthoff, Management Agro-Norm GmbH. “So, we had high expectations for them from the outset, but FIPA’s talented in-house design and installation team surpassed even those – communicating openly and collaborating closely with our employees to develop a custom palletizing solution that’s perfectly suited to solving all of our particular challenges.”

In order to keep costs low, FIPA was challenged to develop a single-crane lifting solution that could service as much of the Agro-Norm workspace as possible. So, instead of mounting the jib crane that controls the FIPALIFT vacuum tube lifter directly to a hall column, as is customary, FIPA used a clamping console to mount the crane to the edge of a column, effectively increasing the pivot range from 180° to 270°. FIPA then outfitted the clamping console with the FIPALIFT vacuum pump and silencing box to conserve workspace and mitigate noise, and terminated the FIPALIFT with a custom gripper equipped with three Varioflex bellows vacuum suction cups capable of gripping, transporting, and precisely positioning several individually packaged auto parts or small cardboard boxes containing auto parts at the same time. This configuration effectively relieves employees from manually repackaging heavy bulk packages of brake pads, brake disks, and other automotive products, and significantly improves throughput, efficiency, and employee health.

“The manual handling of heavy and bulky items can be inefficient and dangerous, especially when combined with high throughput demands, but many people incorrectly assume that robotic lifting equipment, which is economically inaccessible for most small- and medium-sized companies, is the only effective alternative,” said Rainer Mehrer, president of FIPA. “At FIPA, we revel in rising to new challenges, and overcoming that erroneous perception is just one. The extensive experience of our human resources, combined with our vast portfolio of both standard and custom vacuum and gripper components, allows us to create effective, cost-conscious, and high-reliability lifting and gripping solutions perfectly suited to nearly any budget, application, workspace, or industry.”

Characterized by their ease of use, uncomplicated handling, sturdy construction, high reliability performance, and vast customization capabilities, FIPALIFT tube lifters eliminate laborious, accident-prone, and economically inefficient manual handling processes in production environments. Compatible with the entire range of FIPA vacuum, gripper, and EOAT technology, accessories, and adapters, and available in three different models — Basic, Smart, and Expert — FIPALIFT tube lifters can handle nearly any conceivable load in an almost unlimited range of industries and applications, including: palletizing, sheet metal processing, carpentry workshops, the chemical industry, and even food production.

Made of oil-, ozone-, and wear-resistant polyurethane composite material, FIPA’s SP-BX Series Varioflex bellows suction cups feature a dimensionally stable body (60° shore) that prevents buckling over a broad range of shear forces, and a soft, extremely low-marking sealing lip (30° shore) that delivers a perfect seal on surfaces ranging from oil-free metal sheets to hot injection-molded plastics, and even rough or uneven surfaces, such as cardboard and wood. Available with either 1.5 folds (SP-BX1) or 2.5 folds (SP-BX2), SP-BX Series bellows suction cups also deliver long lifecycles to reduce machine downtime, and outstanding holding force, recovery force, stability, and reset capabilities to accommodate systems with short cycle times.